WrestleMania In-Depth: Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker – Where’s The Heat?

  What a difference a week makes. Last week, I was full of the joys of Spring. Flowers were bursting into life. Newborn lambs were doing what newborn lambs do […]

 

What a difference a week makes. Last week, I was full of the joys of Spring. Flowers were bursting into life. Newborn lambs were doing what newborn lambs do – running around blissfully unaware that they’ll soon be someone’s Sunday lunch. Hell, even the weather had improved! I could step outside my house for the first time in months, without being blown inside out by some ridiculous storm of Biblical proportions.

My idyllic week was ticking over nicely, until suddenly disaster struck. OK, not exactly a ‘disaster’ in the sense you’re thinking of. I wasn’t on that missing Malaysian plane, or fighting against the Russians in Crimea. I got ill. Which is a disaster for me, because I’m a giant wuss.

Some free advice here for you folks – if anyone ever tells you “don’t put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear” – thank them and follow their advice.

Stupidly, I didn’t. Instead of taking that sage-like advice, I continued a disgusting, lifelong habit of shoving things in my ears because it feels nice. Yes, I’m a weirdo.

One fateful morning last week I was happily digging away in my ear with a cotton bud, enjoying that weird/nice feeling, when the end of the cotton bud came off and got wedged in my ear. I spent the next few days trying to dig it out using my finger, a match, the end of a pen and a paperclip. Yes, I’m a weirdo, and an idiot.

When I couldn’t get it out and became more deaf with each passing day, I went to the nurse. She syringed my ear and got the cotton bud out. 24 hours later, I woke up with the single most intense and unrelenting pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. An ear infection that had been sent from HELL was my reward for stupidly sticking things in my ear.

The pain was the worst I’ve ever felt in my life. It was more painful than when I broke my arm. It was more painful than when I got my fingers crushed in the hinges of a cabin door on a ferry to Holland (which REALLY fucking hurt). It was even more painful than watching Vince Russo-booked TNA.

My right ear became so infected that, as well as being totally deaf and in a tremendous amount of pain, I was also totally delirious from the infection. I don’t remember Saturday, or much of Sunday. Stuff obviously happened but I couldn’t tell you what. I remember drifting in and out of consciousness, occasionally eating handfuls of painkillers and sobbing. Then I had to stop sobbing because it hurt so much.

I couldn’t speak, laugh, chew or yawn. My entire head felt like it would explode at any minute. I can’t emphasise enough how fucking painful this was.

On Monday, I was able to get up and go to the doctor, who took one look in my ear and said it was one of the worst infections he’d ever seen.

My ear was blown up in size, red hot to touch and was basically poisoning my whole body. And disgustingly, my ear was full of puss from the infection. Yummy! He gave me a huge dose of powerful antibiotics and the kind of painkillers that even Jeff Hardy would think twice about taking too many of!

Today is Thursday and I feel slightly better. I’m still in pain, but it’s managed. It’s more of a dull background throb, than the burning, stabbing constant of a few days ago. I’m still deaf, but it’s getting better. My ear is still full of puss, but at least it’s shrunk back down to its normal size. I can finally speak, laugh, chew and yawn again. I feel well enough to try and tackle this article, which is a massive improvement from a few days ago when I was too weak to even open my laptop.

I know I’ve spent 700 words detailing this when I could have just said “I’ve been ill and my ear hurt” but honestly, I cannot express enough how utterly painful and horrendous the last few days have been.

Like you give a fuck, but I thought I’d preface this article with my ear horror story, to explain why I might be slightly off the boil this week when it comes to witty banter and interesting insight.

Last week, I brought you my first look at Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30. It was mostly a puff piece about how much I love The Streak and how the WWE need to convince the world that this is the year The Streak could end.

This week, I’m in smarky complainer mode, which is the default setting of anyone who writes about wrestling on the internet.

You know the kind of shit I’m talking about: “nothing is ever right”, “we could always do it so much better”, “all it would take is for someone to listen to my idea and wrestling would be awesome again”, “why are they ‘burying’ this guy when he’s so awesome”, blah, blah, blah.

I normally hate all that. Fantasy booking is like masturbation, and just like masturbation, it’s pointless and something you should do alone in a darkened room. But after the last few weeks of the build to the match on TV, I’m going to join the smark parade, have a bit of a moan and try to come up with something better myself.

I decided it would be a good idea to not just complain, but instead offer an alternative idea or solution. I’m not saying what I’m suggesting is the right thing to do, or even a smart thing to do. I’m just putting it out there as an idea, as something different to what WWE are presenting to build up to Lesnar vs The Undertaker.

So before I get to my big idea, let me set the scene. The year was 2010:

  • WikiLeaks announced its arrival to the world with the release of US military files chronicling the war effort in Afghanistan and war logs from Iraq, which contained details of previously unreported civilian casualties and incidents of abuse
  • 33 Chilean miners were rescued after being trapped 2,300 feet under the ground in a collapsed mine shaft for 69 days
  • The UK General Election was held, with Labour getting the boot and the Tory party returning to power, thanks to a coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats
  • South Africa hosted a successful football World Cup, which was won by Spain
  • The Pope visited the UK and did his usual Popey stuff – waving, praying and sitting in a bullet proof box (there’s faith in action for you folks!)
  • And at UFC 121, Brock Lesnar lost the UFC Heavyweight Title to Cain Velasquez after a one-sided, one-round beating.

In 2010, Brock Lesnar was one of the biggest sports stars on the planet. His huge drawing power on PPV (two shows in one year drawing more than one million buys), combined with his undeniable charisma and scary athleticism, had him standing tall at the top of the combat sports world.

The loss of his UFC Heavyweight Title was newsworthy in itself, but that was overshadowed (at least for WWE fans) by what happened after the fight, during a post-fight interview with WWE legend, The Undertaker.

Five words. That’s all it took to set the wrestling world on fire. Five words muttered from The Undertaker towards a stunned and beaten Brock Lesnar as he was leaving the cage. Five words that sparked the imagination of wrestling fans and seemingly set up a monster WrestleMania main-event for 2011. Five simple words: “Do you wanna do it?”

Undertaker played his part to perfection. He got the grandstand challenge (kind of) to Brock on camera. In the interview, he spoke of his love for MMA and hinted at his “personal” issues with Brock, which lead to their brief, yet headline-grabbing exchange.

In the days and weeks that followed that moment, the wrestling world went into overdrive. As with all the best moments in wrestling, the lines of reality and fiction were blurred just enough to peak people’s interest and get them asking all the usual questions.

Was it a work? Was it a shoot? What did it mean? Was Brock coming back to WWE? Will Vince and Dana work something out to allow this match to happen at WrestleMania? How would the match go down?

In the end, the questions remained unanswered. Dana White wouldn’t allow Brock to return to WWE, even for one big-money match at WrestleMania. The interest and the heat died down, and Undertaker worked with HHH at WrestleMania instead. Brock’s career in the UFC was cut short following serious health issues and a first round loss to Alastair Overeem.

Fast-forward four years and here we are – Brock vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30.

So my question is, where the hell is all the heat? Why have we gone from what seemed like a real (or at least supposed to appear real) personal issue between two bad asses, to an old man playing a cartoon character and the former baddest man on the planet being scared because there’s a casket at ringside?

I know that, for some people, all they want to see is The Undertaker doing all his classic stuff at WrestleMania. Taker is a legend and his character/gimmick is awesome. It’s also slightly old hat and pretty cartoonish. Shoot me if you want, but that’s how it feels to me. It’s not a bad thing, it just doesn’t feel like the right thing for this particular match.

When you’re trying to establish something as being real (like The Streak or Brock being a bad ass) it’s not helped by having a 50-year old man wearing eye-liner shooting lightning bolts, talking in cryptic riddles and magically appearing in caskets. It’s what Taker does and it’s what people love, but for this feud and this match, it doesn’t work.

If WWE were smart, they would’ve tried to recapture some of that 2010 magic and used it to build to the match at WrestleMania 30. How? Well let me put on my fantasy booking hat, sharpen up my smark pencil and I’ll tell you.

FANTASY BOOKING WITH DUCKMAN

Brock lays out his grandstand challenge for WrestleMania 30. Taker answers it. Only he isn’t the full-on cartoon character of The Undertaker. He’s The Undertaker from that interview in 2010 – a bad ass guy, with a legitimate tough guy aura around him, who is a fan of fighting.

He can still wear black and whatever, but he’s more real. He’s not the American Bad Ass version of The Undertaker, but somewhere between that and The Deadman. A guy who dresses a bit like a biker, a bit like a Goth, but who still looks like a tough son of a bitch who will beat your ass.

Taker accepts Brock’s challenge because he wants to FIGHT Brock Lesnar. He wants to do what he didn’t get the chance to do in 2010 – beat Brock at his own game.

Brock and Heyman accept with glee.

The build to the match is completely different from what we have at the moment. Instead of it being about Taker being other worldly and Brock being frightened, it’s about two ass-kickers facing off in a fight, with Taker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania on the line.

Brock’s real world experience of fighting is played up as being a big advantage. Along with his power and his youth (he’s not young, but he’s certainly younger than Undertaker), he has an advantage over The Undertaker.

For Taker’s part, he plays the role he’s played at the last couple of WrestleManias – the old gun-slinger who maybe only has one more fight left in him.

The build to the match is based around the fear that Undertaker has bitten off more than he can chew. That even a legend like The Undertaker can’t match the unstoppable power and aggression of Brock Lesnar. WWE stars like HHH or HBK could warn The Deadman that Brock is different from anyone he’s ever faced at WrestleMania to help establish that.

***I should also mention that in this fantasy booking world, Brock Lesnar has been undefeated since his return to WWE and this will also play into the match (streak vs The Streak)***

In the final weeks before WrestleMania, they turn up the aggression and have Brock and Taker brawl, which results in Brock getting the better of The Undertaker, and cements the doubt in people’s minds that this is the year that The Streak ends.

The fight at WrestleMania won’t be contested under MMA rules or in a cage. It’ll be a wrestling match, similar in style to the Samoa Joe vs Kurt Angle match we saw a few years ago in TNA, with some of Brock’s match with John Cena at Extreme Rules 2012 thrown in for good measure. It’ll be intense, hard-hitting, gritty and realistic.

It wouldn’t be a stretch for The Undertaker to alter his style for this match. He already uses MMA gloves, he throws MMA style strikes and uses BJJ submissions (The Hell’s Gate gogoplata choke), and he can easily mix in some of his classic moves and spots to keep the fans on a nostalgia kick happy. Brock is just Brock – a big scary dude who uses wrestling and his power game to dominate most of the match.

In the end, Taker’s veteran savvy, will to win and the fact it’s frigging WrestleMania means he escapes with the win and everyone can go home happy that The Streak is still unbroken.

So far, the ACTUAL build towards Lesnar vs Taker has been boring, hokey, uninspiring and not at all in keeping with the kind of heat and interest that existed for their confrontation back in 2010 – a confrontation that lasted less than ten seconds and consisted of five words.

I can’t understand why WWE have gone down the route they have to build this match at WrestleMania 30. Perhaps they’re not willing to risk changing Taker’s character at this time of year, or maybe they just don’t want to make Brock appear like a credible threat, based on the success he had outside the company?

Whatever the reasons, it feels like WWE are missing a trick by not adding some reality and history to this feud. Given that reality and fiction crossing over is what makes people interested in wrestling, it’s really strange they aren’t capturing that with this match.

Then again, what the fuck do I know? I’m the guy who shoves shit in his ears and then gets surprised when he gets a life-threatening (not really) ear infection.

Anyway, that’s enough fantasy booking/wanking for one day. I’ll be back next week with my final article on Lesnar vs The Undertaker. I haven’t got a clue what I’m going to write about, but I can promise you one thing – I won’t mention my puss-filled ear.

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter which is @MFXDuckman where you can read more about my sore ear and other such interesting topics.

You can enjoy a Duckman audio experience every week on the MFX Podcast. Join me and Sir Ian Trumps as we traverse the week in WWE, TNA and life in general. You can catch our TNA show at the start of the week, with our WWE show dropping later in the week.

MFX is a NSFW, smarks paradise of awesome. We don’t just talk wrestling and, unlike some other wrestling podcasts you might have heard, we don’t bore the arse off you. Honest! Check out the MFX page here, or head over to www.mfxpodcast.com to find our most recent shows. You won’t regret it.

As always, thanks for reading.

Until next time…

Peace,

Duckman